Category Archives: Lifestyle

Big Changes

Wow, July was a busy month. The biggest change for me was I bought my partner’s share of our event business (Deckci) so now I own it all by myself. I’ll discuss the specifics of how that process went down and tips for others later this month. It’s been a little overwhelming juggling everything but I’m finally getting into a groove with things and am looking forward to moving forward with sole control.

We’ve had some excitement on the home front as well. My baby girl, who turned 10 months old two weeks ago, took her first steps last week! It was pretty exciting for us.

Chase has continued to be very picky – but I’m discovering new tricks to get him to eat well. This week I got a great deal on Chobani orange vanilla greek yogurt which Chase refuse to eat. He spit it out crying. So, I pulled out our popsicle maker, poured the yogurt into the molds and froze them. A few hours later we had popsicles – which Chase happily devoured 🙂



Pinterest Project: Making Oil Rubbed Bronze Hardware

Which do you think looks better? 🙂 It would have been a million times easier if the furniture I bought came with oil rubbed bronze hardware. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky. That meant I had two choices 1) Buy oil rubbed bronze hardware 2) Make oil rubbed bronze hardware. After researching my options, I found it was much easier to just make them. Particularly with the help of Pinterest 🙂 Fortunately, I was able to recycle the hardware from one of the dressers. I did have to buy some hardware new. As you can see above, using the old wood knobs wouldn’t work.

To embark on this project I needed four things: Spray paint for metal, sandpaper, cardboard, and hardware.

I washed the hardware and prepped it by sanding it.

Then I spray painted them. I did 4-5 coats, all done within 5-10 minutes of each other.

Voila, oil-rubbed bronze hardware! This was such an easy project and totally worth the time. It only took about an hour for everything.

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Making Brushed Nickel Hardware

Refinishing furniture sounded scary at first. Then I tried it. While it takes a lot of time, it is definitely worth the effort! Instead of spending thousands of dollars on new furniture for our house, I decided to purchase used furniture from Craigslist and refinish it. While embarking on this effort, I discovered an easy way to go from shiny steel to a brushed nickel look. All it took was the hardware and sandpaper.

Using medium grit sandpaper, I sanded the hardware on every side. I then washed it and voila! Brushed nickel! It would be wise to put a protective coat on this. I didn’t because I was sanding them to spray paint.

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The struggle with frugality

Since getting married, my husband and I have been pretty good with our finances. We’ve made a budget, used cash envelopes, and saved as much as we could. Unfortunately, our savings was whittled away with selling our old house and having to pay in, buying our new house, and buying some items for it. This has left me in an uncomfortable place without our large cushion in savings.

This has been all the more incentive to be frugal with our finances. But, we all have our financial weaknesses.

My favorite artist is Michael Birawer. I’ve been a fan for almost 10 years now and love the style of his pieces. We’ve wanted to commission a piece from him for quite some time, but it’s rather pricey. When I saw his Icons of Minnesota collection I was smitten. They are very limited editions (5 of each available) and I really, really wanted to get some. Hence, the battle with frugality. Obviously art is not a need and isn’t important in the grand scheme of things. I weighed the pros and cons in my head and went back and forth on this in discussions with my husband. I knew that if I waited they would sell out and I’d simply lose the opportunity to get one.

So, I guiltily admit I bought them. It was not my greatest moment in frugality. I was able to get $25 off each because I bought four, nonetheless it was still a large purchase that wasn’t in the budget. We did not put them on credit though – we never, ever carry a balance on our credit cards.

While it wasn’t very frugal, I don’t regret my purchase in any way. I love looking up at them in my office and enjoy my collectable art 🙂

I grew up going to this drive-in so this was a must-have for me!

What’s your not-so-frugal splurge?

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Operation New Home: We got it!

We got the golf course home!

It was a nerve-wracking 24 hours. The sellers counter-offered, which we just flat out declined because it was out of our budget, and then they came back again with another counter-offer we could afford. After much discussion, we decided to accept. We ended up spending a little more than we wanted – but this was truly a home we could see ourselves in forever. They ended up coming down almost $40k from their asking price. We felt very fortunate that we were able to come to a mutual agreement on the home.

This goes to show you that if there is something you really want go for it! If it doesn’t work out, then at least you tried – but if it does work out you won’t have any regrets! If we had just went with the home in our budget, we would have been settling and would have always wondered “what if”?

Now that we have spent all our money on a new house 🙂 we are going to work on getting furniture thrift-style.

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Operation New Home: Making an offer

After looking at homes, you need to decide do you want to be move quick and make an offer in case others are interested, or should you take your time and look at a few more houses? It’s a tough call. After reviewing the three homes we liked, we decided that we’d go back and do second showings at the two homes that we had liked (one in our budget and one above our budget at $369k). The golf course home that was $382k was ruled out because the high price, so we weren’t going to do a second visit.

When we went back to the house listed for $369k, we decided to scratch it off our list. Although the home was nice overall, the yard was tiny – and the neighbor the back felt very close with little privacy. So, we moved on to the house in our budget. While it wasn’t perfect, it had a large spacious yard and good bones. We’d have to do minor cosmetic fixes – but we decided we’d go for it. We wrote up an offer – and then the realtor got a call.

The realtor for the home we loved, the one WAY over our new budget ($382k) on the golf course, wanted us to come back for a second look. She said the sellers were eager to sell (they had been relocated) and would entertain any offer. We felt pretty set on the home in our budget, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a second look. That was the end of us.

We immediately remembered how much we loved the golf course home. It was perfect. It didn’t have anything we’d need to fix right away, and had everything on our must have list (and most of our wants). We were torn. We figured we had nothing to lose, so we also wrote an offer for the golf course home. We figured it was worth a shot and if they declined (which we knew they would since we offered $340k plus almost $10k in closing costs – over $50k less than they wanted, and $60k less than they had originally listed the home for), that we’d just make our offer on the home in our budget.

What happened? Check back tomorrow to see which one we ended up getting.

Photo Credit: Kurt Haubrich

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Operation New Home: Hunting down the new homestead

Ever want something you can’t have? Of course, who hasn’t? When house hunting, you often have to reconcile with yourself about the home you want and the home you can afford. This was particularly difficult for us because we were told we could buy a home $40,000 more than our mortgage broker ended up saying we could be approved for (this was due to my self-employment, when self-employed, brokers use tax returns instead of how much you are currently making from the business). That means we had spent over a month looking at homes in one budget only to discover we couldn’t afford those homes.

I found that out the night before we planned to go out house hunting – it was a huge bummer. Fortunately, we only had 2 homes on the list that were over our new budget (listed at $382k and $369k), so I just emailed our realtor to remove those. I figured no point in going to see something that we might fall in love with only to not get it because the seller wouldn’t come down that much.

Our first day house hunting was grueling. Don’t be like me when you go out house hunting. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes, and don’t take on too many homes to look at. When we went out, we ended up only seeing 8 of the 14 homes and it still took us 7 hours. It was a long day. We actually ended up going to the two homes over our budget because our realtor didn’t get our email and she had already driven to the most expensive house, so we figured we might as well see them. We ended the day with three homes on our list of possibles. Of course, we loved the two most expensive homes we saw (one of which was right on the golf course and had everything we wanted) but one home was well within out budget.

Here are a few things I learned:

1. Don’t waste time in homes you don’t like. If you hate the outside, or hate it a few minutes in, just leave. No point in wasting time in a house you aren’t going to get.

2. Plan about 45 minutes for each house you see. Longer if you have drives over 5-10 minutes.

3. Bring a camera and note paper. If you like a home and it’s a possibility, take notes and pictures – after seeing a bunch of homes it will be hard to keep them straight!

4. Ride with your realtor. It was so nice to be able to debrief about each home after viewing it. It made things move faster and we were able to discuss what we had seen with her after each house.

So, what did we do? Check back tomorrow to hear about the tough decision and what happened when we made an offer.

What tips do you have for those looking for a new home?

Photo Credit: Sherwood CC

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Operation New Home: Looking for a new house!

After almost two months of craziness deciding whether to sell, getting our house ready to sell, dealing with the stress of our home being on the market, and battling the pressure to lower our price, we finally sold our home. Which meant we finally could look for new homes!

While it was very exciting to be able to really look, we had a whole new type of pressure. We really wanted this to be our “forever” home. We planned that we wouldn’t move again, and would plan to stay there for the rest of our lives. This meant it was critical that it fit all of our needs and ideally most of our wants.

So, we made a list of all the things we wanted and decided that the house we picked had to have them – no matter what. Our list was:

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 bathrooms (we wanted a master bath, kids bath, and guest bath)
  • Within a couple miles of major freeways to avoid lengthy commutes
  • Newer home (we had lived in a 100+ year home, and while I loved the character I didn’t love the structural issues that came along with an older home)
  • Large kitchen
  • Space for a playroom
  • Decent sized yard (around 1/3 acre)
  • 3 car garage

Those were the must have items. We had many other things we wanted (main floor laundry, deck, large master closet, wood floors, full basement, etc) but those were the deal breakers. We also did NOT want a pool. While we love water and enjoy going swimming up at our cabin, we don’t love the upkeep of a pool and I don’t feel comfortable with it having young children.

Now that we had our list, we chose cities. We wanted to move to the East side of the Twin Cities, closer to family but still close to Phil’s work and my businesses. Our first choice was Oakdale by the golf course or Woodbury. We considered Cottage Grove, but our realtor had advised us that property values aren’t as stable there and we didn’t want to deal with losing a lot of value on our home again.

With our must have list and cities whittled down, we were ready to start looking! Check back on Monday for what I learned about the house hunting process.

What’s on your must have list for your next home?

Photo Credit: Slack12

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Does self-employment + parenthood = chaos?

Is self-employment and parenthood compatible? Maybe not for everyone, but for me it certainly is. When most people hear about my businesses they can’t believe I have a baby and toddler at home. I get a lot of “How do you do it?”, “You must never sleep!” and “You must have a live-in nanny!”

Well, I can tell you it’s not easy but it certainly isn’t very hard. I definitely sleep (at least 7 hours, but usually 8 each night). I don’t have a live-in nanny. I don’t have a nanny at all. My children do go to a Spanish immersion preschool two days per week, but the other 5 days they are home. I can honestly say I get way more time with my kids than parents who work “normal” jobs – and I make at least as much as them.

Self-employment isn’t for everyone – but I can honestly say that starting my businesses were the best career-related decisions I’ve ever made. They have enabled me to create countless relationships with amazing nonprofit workers, be home with my children, and fulfill a life-long dream of working for myself.

Deciding to become an entrepreneur is a difficult and life changing decision, but it can help you achieve your goals and dreams – and give you more time with your family than you thought possible. I strongly believe everyone should give it a try if it’s something you are interested in.

In June I’ll be doing a series on starting a business (30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur) which will highlight my experiences and provide easy to follow steps to starting your own business.

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Operation New Home: We sold our house!

After 4 weeks on the market, 25+ showings, and several second showings, we got an offer. If you remember, we listed it for $210,000 which was much less than we put into it. We got an offer of $200,000 plus they wanted us to pay 3% ($6,000) in closing costs. When the offer was presented to us, our realtor told us that the prospective buyer had a back-up house and would not go any higher – that it was her best offer.

It sucked. We were prepared to pay in and lose money selling our house, but deep down you kind of hope you won’t have to. We were just fortunate that the offer was decent. And wow was I glad we didn’t give in on lowering our price. If we had, that offer would have likely been $190,000 and wouldn’t have come up from there.

So, we discussed it and decided to accept the offer. We were ready to move on and felt fortunate we were finally able to. We accepted her offer and now had 45 days to find a new house and be out of our house. Now for the fun part, looking for a new home!

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